New Delhi: The Madras High Court on Monday issued a notice to the central government to reply before February 18 on a petition challenging 10 per cent reservation for the economically weaker section in general category. DMK organising secretary RS Bharathi had filed a writ plea challenging the government’s decision.

DMK had voted against the Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019 in Parliament demanding that it should be sent to a select committee for further scrutiny.

On January 8, Rajya Sabha had passed the bill granting 10 per cent quota, after hours of debate. The Bill seeks to amend Article 15 of the Constitution, by adding a clause which allows states to make “special provision for the advancement of any economically weaker sections of citizens”.

These “special provisions” would relate to “admission to educational institutions, including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the state, other than the minority educational institutions”.

Till now Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and Jharkhand have approved the quota in their respective states.

The Bill has fixed an annual income of less than Rs 8 lakh and not owning more than five acres of agricultural land as criteria for defining an economically weaker section in the general category for availing of the reservation in educational institutions as well as government jobs.

It does not provide for quota for those owning a flat of 1000 square feet or more, land of 100 sq yards in notified municipality area and 200 yards in the non-notified area.

In a 1992 order, the Supreme Court had capped reservations in government jobs and education at 50 per cent. But in order in July 2010, it allowed states to exceed that limit if they had solid scientific data to justify the increase.